These bizarre photographs by British artist James Ostrer feature himself and others covered in thick, sticky-looking layers of candy, frosting, and other junk food. Decadent edibles look hardened and become a strange replacement for conventional masks and armor.
Candy and sweets are often associated with joy, but looking at Ostrer’s work its hard to feel that way. They aren’t delightful, but are visceral. Frosting is slathered on haphazardly with licorice used to create outlines. Sometimes, the lines are droopy and it appears that the entire piece is melting. The result is a peculiar and unsettling group of photographs that speaks to the sickening amount of junk food we have available as well as a reinterpretation of the self portrait.
These photos are currently on display in his exhibition Wotsit All About at the Gazelli Art House in London through September 11th of this year.
The surreal collages of men and plants that Laurent Millet creates in his series L’Herbier portray a strong connection between nature and the man. But what is that connection? The roots of the plants are always embedded in the body, replacing veins and organs, speaking of an essential. Is the body a receptacle for these plants? Are the plants a kind of succubus, living in and through the human form?
Millet’s work also connotes a strong sense of the fragility of life, echoing Genesis, “For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Plants growing in and through the body are a strong reminder of mortality, but also that there is life in death. Nothing ever really ends.
On his website, Millet’s tags for this work are revealing. “Copertino, homme, machine, vegetal, sciences, naturelles, herbier.” Man and machine, science and vegetation. Stylistically these disparate elements come together in photographs combined with botanical and anatomical illustrations. The men photographed seem preternaturally still. Are they already dead?
The series opens with this quote:
“[…] she with a knife did off the head from the body, as best she could, and wrapping it in a napkin, laid it in her maid’s lap. Then, casting back the earth over the trunk, she departed thence, without being seen of any, and returned home […] Then, taking a great and goodly pot, of those wherein they plant marjoram or sweet basil, she set the head therein, folded in a fair linen cloth, and covered it with earth, in which she planted sundry heads of right fair basil of Salerno; nor did she ever water these with other water than that of her tears or rose or orange-flower water.”
Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, 1349-1353, translated by John Payne, 2007, Project Gutenberg ebook
Grotesque but beautiful, it is a reminder of how there must be life after death.
The photographic series Day & Night by Atlanta, Georgia-based photographer Forest McMullin showcases the dual lives that people lead. As the title may suggest, it captures the difference between what people do during the day versus their evening activities. This often results in the visual dichotomy of the socially acceptable paired with the taboo.
Each composition features side-by-side images of people or a couple. In the photograph on the left, we often see them in professional attire sitting in their living room or at their job. The image on the right, however, tells a different tell. We see the same person clad in leather, completely nude, tied up, gagged, and more. It’s a stark contrast and a side that only a select few get to see.
McMullin’s photographs are meant to challenge the notion of what is considered normal and acceptable. Obviously, in the sexualized images are not seen as common and even deviant to some viewers but are a form of expression and freedom nonetheless. (Via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Hawaii-based photographer Brigette Bloom uses her own urine to create beautifully distorted images of herself and the Hawaiian nature. Before shooting, Bloom soaks the film canister in a cup of her own pee. The fluid warps portions of the emulsion, what creates colorful amoeba-like spots on each frame.
Bloom’s urine-affected photography series titled “Float On” pays tribute to a spot she and her dog used to visit daily. After her secret desert retreat became discovered by more people, photographer drifted away from the secret refuge, preserving its magical aura only in her unusual artworks and memory. Apart from the title, even Bloom’s dynamic posture in most of the shots points out to that drift.
“I was born in the desert and this was the spot I had spent everyday for the past couple years. It was a truly sacred place to me. <…> As time went on, I started noticing a couple people wandering in the desert. It just felt like it wasn’t our secret refuge anymore. I knew it was time for me to ‘float on’ and find new places. This series is my way of saying thank you to the desert, and a farewell at the same time.”
Bloom discovered this technique by a total accident. She told The Huffington Post she’d accidentally washed her pants with a roll of film inside. Photographer decided to take a shot at developing the film and it turned out the results were unexpectedly good looking. Since then, Bloom has been experimenting with all sorts of liquids: from lemon juice, wine, soapy water, etc. “It’s a process of trial and error. I’ve had many, many rolls of film that didn’t turn out, but it’s all part of the process,” she says. (via Feature Shoot)
The Mao Bride (Red Guard Blue holding the Little Red Book), 2010
The Torero Bride With A Black Suit Of Lights, remembering Picasso, 2006
While we can probably all imagine what typical bridal photography looks like (maybe you’ve even been apart of it), artist Kimiko Yoshida turns this martial norm on its head. Her series Something Blue is named for the antiquated 19th century axiom that a bride should have “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue” on her wedding day. The portraits feature Yoshida in various costumes that are tinged with the hue, but not how you’d expect. They look like high-fashion photographs that feature elaborate headdresses, mirrors, and even a black-light suit.
These subversive images are a form of role playing for the artist as she disconnects herself through them. The M.I.A. Gallery in Seattle, who’s currently displaying Yoshida’s work, describes it as:
…she [Yoshida] borrows an identity, tells a new story and plunges the viewer into a ceremony, where the bride keeps appearing and disappearing unexpectedly. The artist recaptures time, transfigures herself into queens, muses, warriors, and uses the shadow to illuminate the mystery and hybrid nature her ceremonial attires.
Using monochromatic, as the gallery observed, has the effect of disappearance. Yoshida is here but she’s not, showing us that when we’re painted in only one color, we become a symbol rather than person.
Double exposure portraits by Spanish-based artist Antonio Mora (a.k.a. Mylovt) blend human and nature worlds into surreal hybrid artworks. Mora works with images he’d found browsing through online databases, magazines and blogs, and then fuses them together using skillful photo manipulation techniques. His seamless way of mixing various concepts together leaves the viewer with mind-tricking illusions.
“I want people to feel inspired when observing my artworks, and that is what I long for. I often look at images hundreds of times without finding anything, and then the spark just arrives. It’s a bit like fishing, a matter of patience and intuition.”
Mora describes his artworks as cocktails, mixtures of ordinary elements merged into forceful and expressive daydreams. According to the artist, his inspiration is provided by the limitless Internet itself and he feels as a medium between the two parallel worlds: real-life and the Web.
Antonio Mora originally graduated from graphic design. Right after his studies, he started a personal design studio which turned him into an art director for 15 years. Gradually, artist decided to concentrate on his art solely. Mora is one of the artists whose instant fame relies on social media: “Social networks, especially Pinterest, have been an important vehicle to spread by artworks”.
His mind-bending photo manipulations are very accessible to the public, as Mora offers anyone the chance to have their own portrait turned into an astounding work of art. (via Writeca)
How many Commandments have you broken? New York City-based photographer Anna Friemoth has gone against all 10 of them with her witty series of self portraits entitled 10 Commandments. With each image, Friemonth turns gluttony, adultery, stealing, and more into a conceptual interpretation of the offense. She styles herself against a dark gray background, adding props that bring each idea to life.
With Commandments like “Keep The Sabbath Day Holy” and “Honor Your Father And Mother,” it’s pretty common to not follow these. We see that for “You Shall Not Kill,” Friemonth is about to devour a bird, and for “You Shall Not Take The Lord’s Name in Vain,” she’s had a specially-made balloon that says “GOD DAMN.” The fine details in each portrait make this series amusing; they also point out that depending on how much of a stickler you are, you could easily break any one of these rules. (Via Flavorwire)
German photographer Loretta Lux captures surreal portraits of children, portraying them in a way that makes them appear as if they’re porcelain dolls. Young boys and girls stare towards the camera and with expressions that you can’t get out of your head. As they look beyond or at you, their large eyes look as if they know deep, dark secrets. Pastel and faded colors contrast with the mysterious feel that these works evoke.
Lux studied painting at Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich and uses this influence in her images. Some pieces take up to a year to complete, and her process involves a combination of photography and digital manipulation. She’ll strip the background and then place her subjects into muted, minimal environments. The flatted backdrop and realistic foreground confuse your eye and help craft these strange images.